Gyeongju is one of the top ten historic city sites
of the world being the capital of the Silla
Kingdom for almost a thousand years. Temple
sites with weathered stone pagodas, royal
tombs, Buddhist bas-reliefs, and fortress
ruins are scattered throughout the countryside
surrounding this ancient city.
Gyeongju Folkcraft Village
This village, at the foothills of Toman mountain,
was established in 1986 to preserve and develop
crafts of the Silla kingdom. It consists
of hanok or traditional Korean houses including
45 thatched houses (called choga) and roof-titled houses (giwajip) where artisans of the Gyeongju origin live
and work. We watched craftsman Ryo create
a pot and saw his work alongside his collection
of ancient pots
Shilla Millennium Park
The theme park integrates both education
and entertainment about the history and culture
of the Shilla Period.(57 B.C.-935 A.D.).
The park reproduces Shilla architecture and
a village of aristocrats, tells stories about
the period, and offers symbolic architecture
such as Emile Tower and Seokbinggo. Visitors are also invited
to participate in several crafts.
The Seokguram Grotto is an 8th-century Buddhist
cave temple carved in the hills above Bulguksa
Temple. It is the only structure surviving
fully intact from the Silla era and said
to be one of the finest shrines in Asia.
Seokguram was abandoned for many centuries
until it was rediscovered by accident in
1909. The story goes that a local postman
was caught in a rainstorm and sought shelter
in the nearest cave he could find. Once inside,
he lit a candle in the dark and found a gigantic
stone Buddha looking back at him! Korea was
under Japanese occupation at the time of
the discovery and the authorities in Seoul
ordered that the cave be dismantled and sent
to the capital city. Fortunately, the local
authorities dragged their feet and the plan
was eventually dropped.
It was originally founded in 535 by King
Pob-hung, for the use of his queen to pray
for the welfare of the kingdom. The small
wooden temple was given the name Hwaeombeomnyusa.
The present temple was begun in 751 by Prime
Minister Kim Daeseong, whose life story is
shrouded in legend. It is said that he was
born clutching a seal inscribed with his
name in his previous incarnation, Kim Daeseong.
Bulguksa was burned to the ground during
the 1592 Hideyoshi Toyotomi invasion. It
was partially reconstructed during the Japanese
occupation of Korea (1910-1945) and fully
restored under President Park Chung-hee (1961-1979).
Known as Daereungwon in Korean, it has more
than 20 large and small tombs from the Shilla
period. The tombs are presumed to be those
of kings and court officials. The dimensions
of the tombs vary with heights ranging from
less than 1 meter to 23 meters. Most of them
are earthen and mound-shaped. Some double
gourd-shaped ones are for the joint burial
of a husband and wife.
During the excavations of Cheonmachong (Heavely
Horse Tomb) and Hwangnamdaech'ong (a
double gourd-shaped tomb), numerous artifacts
(including a gold crown, gold girdles, gold
and siver personal ornaments, horse fittings,
and weapons) were uncovered, all of which
attest to the advanced culture of Shilla.
During the making of Tumuli Park, a number
of ancient tombs were investigated. These
included not only stone-piled wood-lined
chamber tombs, but also jar-coffin tombs,
stone-lined chamber tombs, and tunnel-type
tombs, revealing the various burial methods
during the Shilla period.
Means "Star Gazing Tower." Built
during the reign of Queen Seonduk in 634,
it is the oldest existing observatory in
the Far East. It has 27 levels of stones
in a round shape (Queen Seonduk was the 27th
ruler of the Shilla Dynasty) with four sets
of parallel bars to make a square-shaped
structure on its top. The ends of the parallel
bars jut out several inches from the surface
and might have been a support for a staircase
used to reach the top.
The 12 rectangular base stones are positioned
in a square, three on each side, representing
the four seasons and twelve months of each
year. The twelve tiers of stones to the window
entrance and twelve tiers above the window
opening also represent the 12 months of the
year (or the 12 symbols of the zodiac). For
over two thousand years, astronomers studied
the movements of stars and planets and charted
them. They predicted solar and lunar eclipses,
as well as the courses of comets. Court astrologers
reported and interpreted their findings to
the King who would then act according to
The stars dictated all aspects of policy
making: agricultural developments, celebrations,
wars, and other events and festivals. Astrology
also shaped people's views of life and
the universe. Koreans still tend to believe
that the exact time of birth for each person
is closely governed by the heavens.
King Munmu (the king responsible for unifying
the Shilla, Koguryo, and Paekche kingdoms) built Anapji Pond in 674 as a
pleasure garden. He designed the pond so
that one cannot view the entire pond at once.
Only a small portion of the original palace
remains. In 1975 when the pond was drained
for repairs, workers found a wealth of treasures
that had been underwater.
As one of the detached palaces, of the Silla
royal family’s main palace, this structure
was used as the crowned prince’s palace.
Imhaejeon is historically the most important
building on the property and historical books
often refer to the surrounding area as a
whole simply as Imhaejin. An excavation resulted
in the discovery of several buildings , Hoerang
(corridor area), Anapji Pond and five towers
in the western portion of the site . While
some sites have been restored others have
been left in the natural form, only leaving
the corner stones in sight.
The restoration of the bridge that connected the palace to the town is currently underway.
Gyeongju National Museum is the essence of the Silla culture in general
with 2,500 artifacts including the prehistoric
relics and the Buddhist artifacts on display
and 80,000 in storage.
Poseokjeong Pavilion is where the Silla kings used to hold poetry-reciting
and drinking parties. Kings would float wine
cups to their statesmen seated around the
watercourse made in the shape of an abalone